Link: A PR article from FEMA, to response the article Meet the Secret Group That Decides Which Flavors Are ‘Natural’
A recent article from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) offers Americans an incomplete and misleading view of how the safety of flavors used in foods and beverages enjoyed by millions of Americans is determined.
Ensuring the safety of flavors used in the products consumers enjoy – and maintaining the public’s confidence in that safety – is the flavor industry’s primary goal. The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA), understands that the safety of the food supply is of paramount importance to all consumers. For more than 55 years, FEMA has assured the safety of flavors used to increase the enjoyment of foods and beverages.
Americans can trust that the flavor ingredients in their foods and drinks are safe. The FEMA GRASTM (Generally Recognized as Safe) program, established in 1960, has evaluated the safety of flavor ingredients and, as described in CPI’s article, it continues to be well-regarded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other international regulatory bodies. More than 100 countries accept FEMA GRASTM determinations, which demonstrates the confidence of the global food regulatory community in the FEMA GRASTM program.
The safety of flavor ingredients is determined by the FEMA Expert Panel, an independent group of scientists from prominent universities. The Expert Panel uses the most current understanding of biology, toxicology and biochemistry to determine ingredient safety. It is important to understand that the Expert Panel employs strict protections against potential conflicts of interest. Members of the Expert Panel have never been employees of FEMA member companies nor have they served as employees of companies in the food industry. Expert Panel members do not know the identity of companies that are applying for GRAS determinations for their flavor ingredients, nor are companies permitted to contact Expert Panel members. After the Expert Panel has made a final determination on a flavor ingredient’s safety, it publishes its safety determinations in a peer-reviewed journal and shares with the FDA information about the FEMA GRASTM flavor ingredient and the safety data underpinning the FEMA GRASTM determination, always with more information than the agency requires. In addition to the peerreviewed journal articles, FDA makes much data on flavor safety publicly available through the National Technical Information Service. Finally, many agencies responsible for flavor safety agree with FEMA GRASTM determinations including the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Committee on Food Additives and the European Food Safety Authority.
FEMA is committed to working with interested groups and regulators to increase understanding of how the independent FEMA Expert Panel evaluates the safety of flavor ingredients through the FEMA GRASTM program. We are disappointed that CPI failed to report on the information that fully describes our process, rationale and safeguards to assure flavor safety, which was provided to the organization in extensive documentation. For a broader perspective, we also provided more than 250 citations to readily accessible publications on flavor safety and the FEMA GRASTM program.
FEMA members do business in a highly technical and creative industry, and we work to ensure that issues important to our members are understood by Members of Congress. Occasionally, we meet with a Member or their staff to discuss specific legislation. However, this work is not the primary focus of our organization. The FEMA GRASTM program, established in 1960, is the longest running industry GRAS program in the U.S. today. We will continue to work with FDA and other food industry participants to assure that flavors continue to be safe for American consumers. For more information about FEMA and the flavor industry, please visit www.FEMAFlavor.org and Flavorfacts.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association